DOC NYC Opening Night Film Review – ‘Maya and the Wave’ Spotlights Ambitious and Accomplished Surfer
All sports have their ardent fans, and one of the most intense and impressive areas is surfing. What many do as a relaxing activity on the beach is something completely different for professional athletes who battle monumental waves and welcome the presence of nearby storms that could create ideal conditions for the ultimate challenge. Maya and the wave follows one particularly notable talent, Maya Gabeira, as she struggles to make a name for herself in a sport that doesn’t seem interested or invested in her success.
This film is a simple, open-ended look at Gabeira’s early days in the surfing community and how most didn’t expect much from her and expected her to fail. Being knocked out during a daring surf has the consequence of presenting her as an inexperienced and stupid wannabe who should never have tried to improve her skills in the first place. Through conversations with Gabeira, her family, and the people who first saw her enter the industry and now see how far she has come, Maya and the wave paints a picture of someone who knows what they like and who remains determined to be taken seriously.
Among Gabeira’s main goals throughout the film is setting a new Guinness World Record category that will celebrate the achievements of female surfers. The way even those who now claim to support Gabeira speak of her points to an ingrained sexism in sport, which believes that women cannot do as well as men. But Gabeira is determined to constantly improve and, like many who are told they can’t do something, is working harder to ensure she can partly prove the naysayers wrong.
There are two modes in this documentary: intimate conversations with Gabeira and her loved ones, and footage of her taking waves. The former is illuminating and helps show how Gabeira approaches the sport and what factors played into his involvement in the first place, as well as his ability to continue training. The latter is exhilarating and easy to choose from a number of scenes as a representative of Gabeira’s most thrilling and awe-inspiring shot colliding with a wall of water which for her is the ultimate thrill and cue to hit.
This film doesn’t come as Gabeira looks back on her career but rather on her peak, having recently broken a record she herself had previously set for the biggest wave ridden by a woman. As the 35-year-old Brazilian superstar continues to grow in her career, she’s sure to encounter additional setbacks and achieve even more spectacular goals, and this documentary is an interesting snapshot of where she is now compared. where it started at. It represents a humble acknowledgment of roots and a way of staying grounded that for a celebrity should remain essential given the often toxic nature of fame.
Watching and hearing Gabeira as she endures challenges and prepares for the next big opportunity provides a window into her mental state, which is not ruled by fearlessness but rather by the knowledge that fear exists and that it can defeat her by taking on what scares her. It’s a refreshing perspective that many probably wouldn’t attribute to someone of her status, and it helps her feel more human and connected. While most audience members would certainly not be confident about a wave that could hit and seemingly wipe them out at any moment, Gabeira becomes an accessible figure through this biography, able to tell her own story and honor what she has done and continues to do for an invigorating sport.
Check out more articles from Abe Friedtanzer.
Maya and the wave premieres as a DOC NYC opening night movie on Wednesday, November 9e.